All You Need to Know About Geotechnical Engineering

If you’ve never worked with a geotechnical engineer before, you may not understand exactly what this subsection of engineering accomplishes. Geotechnical engineers in Rockville, MD work with earth materials, from determining whether a site is appropriate to build upon to how the land and water might interact.

Read on for an overview of geotechnical engineering and how you might use it in your next design and construction project.

What is geotechnical engineering?

Geotechnical engineering is the practical application of geology. Engineers use the principles of soil and rock mechanics to study building sites and determine whether the location can support a specific construction project. It is a subset of geological engineering, and is used to design foundations and buildings.

This type of engineering is used in government and military projects, but it may also be used by those in the mining and petroleum industries. If it occurs on the surface or underground, geotechnical engineering principles must be considered.

How do geotechnical engineers help with projects?

A geotechnical engineer primarily examines how soils behave when they’re subject to loading forces. For example, if you’re building a freeway, you’ll need to make sure that the ground is stable and strong enough to support the average traffic in the region—as well as additional room for growth, should the area develop further in the future. Bridges and building foundations are also subject to geotechnical investigations, since safety is paramount.

What kinds of tasks do geotechnical engineers perform?

Here’s a closer look at some of the key elements of the geotechnical engineering profession in Rockville, MD:

  • Geotechnical investigations: Geotechnical investigations are also known as geotechnical surveys. The engineers assess the physical properties of a site to ensure it’s safe for the project to proceed. Before you build or develop a parcel of land, or after an earthquake or other natural disaster, you’ll need a geotechnical investigation.
  • Geotechnical reports: This report details the qualities of the site, such as soil type, landmarks and obstacles, the conditions of the land and more. The report often includes design and construction recommendations to ensure the safety and success of the project.
  • Geotechnical drilling: This type of drilling is usually performed for buildings and oil rigs. Engineers drill to collect soil and rock samples, but they may also check for gas, oil, minerals and other natural features.

What kinds of methodologies and equipment do geotechnical engineers use?

A few of the primary tools in a geotechnical engineer’s kit include:

  • Geotechnical instrumentation: This refers to the equipment that engineers use for geotechnical engineering tasks, such as drills, soil testers, hydrometers, hammers, excavation tools, magnifying lenses and more.
  • Q system: The Q system is a way to classify rock mass, which is critical when geotechnical engineers analyze a parcel of land.
  • G-force: You might also see them refer to g-force, which is how gravity affects (or puts force upon) an extraterrestrial body—that is, buildings, bridges and other structures. The bigger the mass, the more gravitational force is involved.

When you need to work with skilled geotechnical engineers in Rockville, MD, call EMC2 Inc. today. We have two decades of field experience and can help get your project off the ground.